Book Talk

Linda Brown, You are Not Alone: The Brown V. Board of Education Decision

May 17, 2014

Linda BIn 2003, a brilliant book was published: Linda Brown, You Are Not Alone: The Brown V. Board of Education Decision, by Joyce Carol Thomas. This book catapulted me into the center of this monumentous* occasion, it’s history, and the impact of lives—individuals and collectives. The summary:

When the Supreme Court decision to desegregate public schools was handed down in 1954, the course of American history was forever changed. Here are personal reflections, stories, and poems from ten of today’s most accomplished writers for children, all young people themselves at the time of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Included are Michael Cart, Jean Craighead George, Eloise Greenfield, Lois Lowry, Katherine Paterson, Ishmael Reed, Jerry Spinelli, Quincy Troupe, Joyce Carol Thomas, and Leona Nicholas Welch. With a compelling introduction by editor Joyce Carol Thomas and stunning pastel artwork by Curtis E. James, this collection celebrates the hard-earned promise of equality in education.

Why read this book now? These authors capture an array of experience and response to a life-changing Supreme Court Decision that came on the backs of so many people. And the perspectives offered may surprise you as it did me; that the response was not all favorable is obvious, however the reasons why are provocative.

At the 50th anniversary of this decision, a Florida university asked me to keynote a faculty convocation. The university had decided to dedicate two years to broadly studying and reflecting upon the Brown V. Board of Education decision. I suggested they use this book, a book noted by the publisher as being for middle school students. They wisely used this book university-wide.

Another reason I offer this title today, on the 60th anniversary of this decision, is this: every community has stories that must be told or they will be lost forever. Witnessing lives creates the common thread of humanity. Capturing stories extends these lives beyond space and time. Consider this one of the imperatives of an engaged and engaging education.

This book, like many others that are worthwhile, have gone out of print yet remain worth finding.

*Monumentous. There is some question as to whether this is a legitimate word or simply the combination of monumental and momentous. You decide. Works for me.

Always welcome your response to

All the best in service,

Cathryn Berger Kaye, M.A., CBK Associates

Learn more about the literature and service learning nexus–register now for the July 14-16, 2014 Summer Service Learning Institute: Meeting the Needs of 21st Century Learners in upstate NY at an all-inclusive setting led by Cathryn Berger Kaye, international service learning expert and author of The Complete Guide to Service Learning. During these comprehensive three days, explore ideas with colleagues from all over the world. Deepen understanding of best teaching practices applied to service learning and 21st century competencies. Make links to Common Core, IB or whatever your school priorities are during sessions designed with you in mind. Share ideas, grow possibilities and extend your connections with colleagues well beyond the event. Questions? Contact Register here.

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